Winning the referendum was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I’ve been fighting for Brexit for a long time and winning was one the grandest of satisfactions. I see fantastic opportunities for the post-Brexit United Kingdom. However, before those Brexit opportunities are realised we need to address the challenges currently facing the UK at the moment.
Much of the reaction to Brexit from some Remainers has, to put it as delicately as I can, been raving mad. The utter hysteria expressed by some of them is mind boggling. The media has reported every piece of negative information imaginable at a rapid and frenzied pace. Some celebrities have expressed their utter shame in being British. A small minority of MPs, such as Ken Clarke, David Lammy, Tim Farron, and Anna Soubry have all performed particularly disgraceful, attacking the democratic “plebiscite” that brought about this “madness.” From the quasi-fraudulent petition for a second referendum, to the barrage of social media virtue signalling about “loving Europe” (Boris Johnson, Daniel Hannan and other Leavers have also made clear that they too love Europe, just not the EU- but whatever) to the even more dangerous shouting down Boris at his home, threatening Nigel Farage with death, proposing disenfranchising old people and splitting up the United Kingdom, Remain-backing extremists have not been not taking the result well. And in fairness, some of the fringe of Leave supporters have behaved horribly as well- with their being reports of racist abuse of Poles and other minorities since the referendum. Nigel Farage‘s speech to the European Parliament gloating about his victory was, to put it mildly, less than statesmanlike too.
Luckily, most world leaders have accepted the results of the referendum and are committed to making sure that Brexit proceeds in a fashion amendable for everyone. David Cameron has accepted the result, ( and as I suggested) resigned and ruled out the possibility of a second referendum. He has also correctly left the timing of the article 50 decision to his successor. Other world leaders have also taken the results in stride. Barack Obama, who before the referendum threatened the UK with being in the “back of the queue” has re-emphasised the importance of the special relationship and further cautioned against uncalled hysteria over Brexit. Furthermore, the United States has backed making a trade deal with the UK, as has other allies such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and seven other nations to date. Even the Europeans, with the possible exception of Jean-Claude Junker, seem to be taking the news in stride, as the German BDI (equivalent of UK CBI) has called for a trade deal with the United Kingdom and Merkel has called the EU Referendum result “irreversible.” Lastly, the British people have no appetite for another referendum.
World leaders’ welcome sense of perspective about the EU Referendum is no room for complacency however. The EU is “digging its heels in” over free movement in any Brexit negotiation with the UK- despite Cameron having informed them that there lack of flexibility in the area of free movement is responsible for the UK voting to Leave. Even after the market recovery following the steep decline in stock values immediately after the referendum, a large amount of challenges remain before the UK’s actual exit from the European Union. Tough decisions will need to be made. Hysterical Remainers keep banging on about how the Brexiters “don’t have a plan” (which is false, it is just the Brexiters are not running the government at the moment), so here is my plan for guiding the HMS Britannia from now until the final exit.
Conservatives should pick either Michael Gove or Andrea Leadsom as their leader and Prime Minister.
The Conservative Party should choose either Michael Gove or Andrea Leadsom as party leader and Prime Minister. To me, this is only logical. Those two were leaders of the Leave campaign. Furthermore, choosing either one of them would put responsibility of leaving the European Union in the hands of those most responsible for the nation leaving. Appointing a Remainer, should it be Theresa May or Stephen Crabb (no matter how quiet they may have been during the campaign) is not the right thing to do. Choosing a Remainer denies the people who campaigned to Leave the European Union the right to implement the policies they campaigned for- such as the Australian style points immigration system and the prioritising of money saved from EU contributions to go to the NHS. If Remainers are in charge of the Conservative Party after Cameron, they are unlikely to feel any loyalty to the platform of the Leave campaign, which could leave much of the Leave supporting public angry and push them into the arms of UKIP and Nigel Farage.
Whichever of the two wins, Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove, should top jobs in return for their support in the final round. If Gove wins I would recommend Mrs. Leadsom for the job of Chancellor due to her background in the City. If Mr. Gove wins, he should serve as Foreign Secretary for his sheer intellectual largess and ideological passion for Britain. Boris in my opinion should form should be Chancellor under Leadsom or Foreign Secretary under Gove for his prominent role as Leave campaigner. I would further recommend elevating Penny Mourdaunt to Defence secretary. It is important that Leavers be as united as possible behind Boris. Though I admire Dr. Liam Fox, I was disappointed he jumped in the race, and I hope he will support either Leadsom or Gove when it likely comes down to Leadsom or Gove versus either Theresa May or Stephen Crabb.
Once Gove or Leadsom become PM I further think they will do an excellent job at uniting the party. I am sure they would allocate the non-top positions in the cabinet in an fair way. I would further hope that once either one of them becomes Prime Minister he or she triggers article 50 fairly soon after, to end any uncertainty of when the leaving project will begin.
A Leadsom-Gove-Boris government must insure that during the article 50 period they make the UK once of the most attractive places to trade and do business with.
During the article 50 period it is important that the UK assure the world that it will continue to be a dynamic place to do business once it actually leaves the European Union. This will require stringent work in domestic and foreign policy.
On the domestic front it is essential that the UK be a more attractive place to do business than its European Union competitors. The first step would be cut corporation tax to at least the level of the Republic of Ireland, and ideally to ten percent. That would be the lowest rate in the industrialised world and show that the UK is serious about continuing to be a global centre for investment. The UK needs to further cut personal income tax not only at the 45p top level but also the 40p middle bracket to encourage Britons to continue to spend money during this period. There have been plenty of good ideas written for free market solutions post-Brexit for Chancellor Leadsom to consult- in particular I would recommend the ideas put forth by Graeme Leach in the Telegraph and Rohan Silva in The Sunday Times. Short term government spending cuts to avoid increasing the deficit can be found in cutting the £12 billion overly bloated Department for International Development budget- a department whose spending has gotten so out of control it receives more funding than all local council services in the UK.
On immigration, the UK should encourage easy to obtain work permits for highly qualified English speaking foreign professionals to come and relocate in the United Kingdom. Following the Australian points system, this would encourage prosperous foreign individuals to relocate, pay taxes, and spend money in the United Kingdom. Further, Parliament should pass an immigration bill that, upon taking affect upon Britain’s departure from the European Union, while encouraging high skilled immigration, restricts the flow of low skilled immigration from the European Union. It would be a betrayal of the working class voters who backed Vote Leave in large numbers to not restrict low skilled Eastern European immigration.
On the issue of foreign trade agreements, it is vital that the United Kingdom work very hard for a trade deal with the EU. That being said, it is important that its overall trade emphasis does not become overly “Eurocentric.” On this site, we have published quite a few articles emphasising the benefits of the Norway, and EEA/EFTA models. I do absolutely agree with the FLEXCIT proponents that option would be the most stable and easiest way of going about working out a deal with the EU. However, I do think it’s important that the Leave supporters honour its immigration commitments and slow the strain on public services by insisting upon a unilateral “emergency brake” that amounts to tens of thousands of EU migrants per year. If the EU continue to insist that there will be no deal without free movement of people, the UK should make clear to the EU that it has no problem diverting to WTO rules upon expiration of the article 50 negotiations. After all, the EU/UK has no trade deal with the nations like the US and China and yet do large amounts of trade with those nations.
Obviously, many people will worry about the instability created by not accepting a quick deal with the EU. But as David Cameron can attest to, a quick deal is not always the best deal. In a negotiation, the other side must not hold the power over you. Therefore, the UK should not only pursue trade talks with the EU, but should enter into trade negotiations with nations the world over during the Article 50 period. As stated above, at least 11 nations have expressed an interest in making trade deals with the United Kingdom. The UK must get started on making these deals immediately.
The first place to start heavily negotiating with for trade deals is the Commonwealth. As I argued in 2014, the United Kingdom should push for a “C9” Commonwealth free trade area of the UK, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa and Nigeria. This C9 group would create a global trade block quasi-equivalent to what the EEC was in 1973; before it became a political and not an economic project. This trade deal is doable because Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India have all expressed interest in a trade deal and because Commonwealth nations already co-operate on many matters through the Commonwealth organisation. A massive global deal of these large and global economies, or even a handful of them (if say South Africa and Malaysia don’t want to get involved in such a deal), would be a enormous achievement in establishing one of the world’s first global free trade zones and it can be used as leverage in any kind of negotiations with the EU. These deals could be “sweetened” by offering C9 countries “favoured nation” status for UK immigration.
The other massive block option for the UK is entering into a deal with the NAFTA nations of the US, Mexico and Canada- all of whom have expressed an interest in doing a trade deal. Being part of NAFTA, as Condoleezza Rice once advocated, could be a boon to the British economy. However, it is not essential that the UK simply enter into trading blocks, it should also pursue as many bilateral trade agreements as it can muster- this is important in “globalising” the UK’s trade and business relationships.
One might ask: how is this achievable given that the UK has not negotiated a trade deal on its own in decades due to its EU membership? I would argue that the UK should not rely on its own skill standing alone, but should hire those who can help. Recently, the New Zealanders offered to let the UK use its top trade negotiators– the UK would be foolish to not accept the offer considering New Zealand’s success in making trade deals the world over. However, I think the UK should scour the world far and wide for advice and teams to best make deals. One option I believe would be hiring former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice given her earlier proposition of the UK entering NAFTA. Another option is bringing on another Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, as an adviser. Mr. Kissinger has recently written a piece in the Wall Street Journal expressing the opportunities he sees from Brexit. Whoever the UK hires however, it must bring an “A list” diplomatic and negotiating team. I hope the UK ends up with access to the European single market, however global trade negotiations are most important in ensuring the long term economic health and prospects of the UK economy.
Domestic Constitutional Issues Must be Handled in a Fair but Firm Way.
Certain areas of the UK, namely London, Scotland, and much of Northern Ireland, as well as Gibraltar are not happy about the departure of the United Kingdom from the EU. There concerns must be treated with as much compassion and understanding as possible, but the UK government should not enable hysteria to take hold in those areas. Therefore I propose the following solutions for the areas of the country that voted Remain.
I propose allowing Gibraltar to remain in the EU if the UK can reach a deal with the EU for it staying in. This would enable Gibraltar to keep its Spanish border open and help its tourist trade. My argument for this would be that currently the UK is in the EU but Jersey and Guersney and the Isle of Man are not, and therefore conversely Gibraltar, which is isolated at the bottom of Spain, should have the right to keep in the EU even though the UK is not. The UK owes the very loyal people of Gibraltar its utmost loyalty in return.
I agree with giving London expanded powers to handle its own affairs, as Sadiq Khan has proposed. In fact, I wrote an article right after the Scottish referendum calling for UK wide devolution where possible. Devolving more power to London has the advantage of calming down an unhappy populace, but it is also the right thing to do. Devolution to London follows the admirable “big society” project of David Cameron and Steve Hilton of local government and control.
The border with Ireland and Northern Ireland must remain open. The post-Good Friday agreement peace has been an enormous success and nothing must jeopardise it. Furthermore, the United Kingdom must ensure its new bill of rights keep in law the parts of the Human Rights Act that were included in the Good Friday agreement. Any kind of Sinn Fein agitating disguised as concerns about Brexit should of course be ignored and the wishes of the Ulster people represented through the Northern Ireland Assembly should be respected.
As for Scotland, the UK government must be very clear with the SNP: there will be no second referendum anytime soon. Even if the Scottish parliament passes a referendum bill the results will not be honoured.
First of all, the Scottish people last voted on a referendum bill less than two years ago. Alex Salmond said after the referendum that it was a “once in a generation” decision and that decision was made by a large ten point margin.
Secondly, referendum talk would only work to destablise the United Kingdom at a very crucial negotiating time. Furthermore, the UK passed a comprehensive Scotland bill that devolved new powers to Scotland in March of this year.
Thirdly, a referendum would be a futile exercise. Though the powerless European Parliament may cheer on a virtue signalling Scottish MEP’s speech or a Nicola Sturgeon visit, the fact remains the EU would not accept an independent Scotland joining it. This is because Spain, France and the European Commission have made it clear they will not accept Scotland joining out of fears of Catalan breaking off from Spain and joining the EU or Basques in both countries splitting off. The EU would simply not allow automatic Scottish entry into the EU for fear of the precedent it would set.
Lastly, the SNP no longer commands a majority in the Scottish Parliament. Unionist of all parties must vote down any attempt to pass a second Scottish referendum bill. Even disregarding their loyalty to the UK, an independent Scotland, with the biggest deficit of OCED economies (yes even more than Greece), and without UK or EU membership, would be a basket case unclear of its currency and without answers on the areas needed for a functioning sovereign nation- including such areas such as a military and a foreign office.
Great Britain has a great future ahead of it. However, as with any period of transition, weathering uncertainty is essential for future success. My hope is that Brexiteers will follow advice similar to this Daily Globe Brexit manifesto in ensuring success for a EU-free United Kingdom going forward. In the meantime, all serious statesman should ignore “project hysteria” and follow that age old British phrase: “Keep Calm and Carry On.”